On New Year’s Day, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp shocked and delighted sci-fi fans when he uploaded several stunning pieces of concept art for a potential Aliens sequel to Instagram. The 35-year-old South African filmmaker hadn’t been publicly attached to a new installment in the long-running franchise, so it seemed like perhaps he was making some big news via the social network.
As it turns out, Aliens studio Fox had no idea that Blomkamp — whose new sci-fi flick Chappie hits theaters in March — was working on what amounts to some spectacular spec art… at least for now.
“I was in the end process of Chappie, and when my workload started to decrease, I could start thinking about what I could do next,” Blomkamp told Yahoo Movies on Tuesday. “I started working on that project without Fox knowing. That’s not a normal process.”
Despite not having Fox’s blessing to develop the sketches, Blomkamp wasn’t just making some fantastic fan art. Chappie co-stars Sigourney Weaver, who’s perhaps best known for her role as Alien’s bad-ass protagonist Ellen Ripley. So Blomkamp spent much of his time on-set picking her brain about the character.
"I was like, ‘As the person who knows Ripley more than anybody else, tell me some things about how Ripley feels,’” he says. “So she walked me through a bunch of stuff. There was some stuff that I secretly wrote down that I may use one day.”
Despite making the art, Blomkamp says he’s uncertain whether he’d want to go ahead and actually make the movie. Since his effort to make the big screen adaptation of the video game Halo blew up in 2006, Blomkamp has been skeptical of Hollywood’s franchise machine. “There’s a lot of franchises I’ve been asked about that I want nothing to do with,” he says. ”And then there’s something that I’ve never been asked about but I really like but I’m not sure I would do.”
His favorite character, for example, is Batman, but Blomkamp says he’s not sure what more he could do with the series after Christopher Nolan’s dark version of Gotham (though Zach Snyder will do his best to top it). The Star Wars franchise, which scooped up talented young sci-fi directors like Rian Johnson (Looper) and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is another one he’d likely avoid.
”Star Wars is interesting on another level because it has such insanely rabid fans,” Blomkamp said. “At that point, the director needs to understand that they’re not making a film for themselves — they’re making a film very specifically for a very large number of rabid fans that probably know more about the intimacies of that than [the director does]. So you better get it right in terms of what they want. And depending on the filmmaker, that may or may not be the right choice … I don’t want to have to answer to anyone about ‘Why did you choose this?’, or ‘Why did you do that?’”